How to Practice Mindfulness when Meditation isn't Your Thing
Personally, I'm new to the meditation world and while I've seen some amazing benefits from it, meditation is not for everyone and that's okay. Meditation is like a muscle that needs to be exercised often. Thankfully, meditation isn't the only way to become more mindful.
Before we dive in, you might be asking, why would I want to be more mindful anyway? Perhaps you feel completely content the way you're living your life. If that's the case, go you! But for most of us, there's always room for improvement or learning. Mindfulness can benefit your life in a number of ways: improved concentration, decreased feelings of depression or anxiety, and feeling more connected to others.
If you want to practice being more mindful without having to sit cross-legged with your eyes closed, keep on reading.
How to be More Mindful Every Day without Meditation:
Start each day with gratitude and intention. Every morning when I wake up, I journal three things I'm grateful for, three things that would make today great (AKA: my top three priorities for the day), an affirmation, and an intention to manifest. This practice helps me start each day on a positive note and it brings my awareness to the things that are important to me.
Listen to someone without picking up your phone or focusing on what you're going to say in response. It can be really tempting to pick up your phone when you're in the middle of a conversation with someone, especially if you're close with that person and you don't think they'll call you on it, but by doing this you're missing out on truly connecting with this person (plus it's just rude). Another common thing people do in a conversation is think about what they're going to say next, instead of listening to the person they're talking to. It's completely normal to get excited about a conversation and want to add to it (and you probably don't consciously realize you're thinking about what to say next all the time), but when you really focus on what the other person is saying, you have an opportunity to learn from them and build a stronger connection. You already know everything you're going to say, so why not focus on what the other person has to say and give yourself a chance to learn something new?
Eat without distraction. When you're about to eat a meal, sit down and focus only on the food in front of you and/or the company you're with. Instead of looking at your phone, savor the flavor of your food, the texture of each bite, and experience the fullness of your stomach. By focusing just on what you're eating, you will enjoy your food more and you'll know when you're becoming full faster.
Focus on one screen at a time (also known as the one screen rule). This rule can be hard to follow but I think it's brilliant. To follow this simple rule, you should only be viewing one screen at a time. So, if you're watching TV for instance, that's all you're doing. You're not watching TV and scrolling your phone or iPad. This rule will help you stay in tune with whatever you're viewing on the screen. How many times have you watched a show and been on your phone at the same time only to find that you're not really sure what happened at the end of the episode? I know I have!
Observe what's around you. You can use this mindfulness tip wherever you are. Whether you're in your office, in the car, or on a walk in nature, take notice of what's around you and find beauty in the ordinary things you would normally take for granted. I used to live in Oregon and I never noticed it's beauty until I became a photographer and I had to start noticing what was around me to compose photos. Once I started paying attention to everything that was around me, I gained a new love for where I lived and saw beauty everywhere. Now I live in a new state but I've taken this perspective with me and I'm always observing my surroundings and finding the beauty in them.
Fully engage with a hobby. The next time you spend time on one of your hobbies, try to fully show up. If you knit, try knitting with the TV off and no distractions. Just enjoy your hands moving those needles and feeling the yarn. If cooking is more your jam, avoid listening to a podcast like you normally do and listen to the sounds of what you're chopping and smell the flavors of what you're creating.
If you found any of these tips to be helpful, please let me know!